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There’s nothing new in saying that customers are moving online, but with the closure of physical stores during the Coronavirus pandemic we’ve seen eCommerce platforms soar as digital sales become a lifeline for both shoppers and retailers alike. A huge part of this online shopping experience is Google Shopping ads. For both retailers and customers, these paid product advertisements have become the norm. However, that ‘norm’ is all about to change.
As businesses worldwide suffer financially, Google have announced that they are ‘advancing’ plans to ‘make it free for merchants to sell on Google’. In one of the biggest shake-ups to their advertising platform, Google Shopping ‘will consist primarily of free listings’ in the hope that struggling and small businesses will now be more ‘discoverable’ online and can connect with customers more easily via a ‘healthier retail ecosystem’. In turn, it’s hoped that consumers can find what they’re looking for more easily with a wider selection of retailers available.
Big changes with supposedly big outcomes. But, what do Free Google Shopping Listings really mean for your business?
For retailers already advertising on Google Shopping, the changes can initially seem daunting. Will you still maintain your coverage? Will you still gain return on investment from Google Shopping? How will you gain a better service than those running free Google listings? Is it still worth paying for Google Shopping?
Although all facets of this update aren’t clear yet, it appears that Google Shopping will now run in a similar manner to Google Search, offering a combination of both paid and organic listings. For existing advertisers Google states that ‘paid campaigns can now be augmented with free listings’.
Therefore, paid Google Shopping ads will still boost your coverage and deliver a return on investment. However, your products can simultaneously appear in ‘free’ or organic listings, meaning you can take up more of the Google search results page for less ad spend: win-win!
As many advertisers will know, the key to a successful Google Shopping campaign lies largely with your Merchant Centre Feed and free Google listings are likely to be no different.
While Google are still working on the free listing ‘onboarding’ process it’s clear that shopping feeds will have to be in pristine condition for both paid and free listings.
So, for advertisers and retailers alike, now is the time to get your GTINs, MPNs, Brands, Images and Product Descriptions up to scratch if you want to be at the top of Google Shopping ads.
Speaking of product descriptions it’s time to talk SEO.
I won’t start off with the ‘content is king’ spiel but, well, it is. For free Google Shopping listings, your product titles and descriptions are going to play a huge part, as they already do for organic search listings.
On site content will need to be full (but not too full) of keywords, products will need rich descriptions, links will need to be aplenty and product titles will need to be accurate if you even want to get a look in on free Google Shopping listings. And don’t think you escape if you’re running paid shopping ads – oh no. Your on site content plays a huge part in your merchant centre optimisation and of course the all important landing page experience once a customer clicks your ad so it’s key your content is in pristine condition.
As with all solutions in the Coronavirus pandemic, Google themselves admit that their changes will be neither fast nor easy. At the moment it’s all about laying the ‘groundwork’ for a new platform. And, with the aim to make ‘digital commerce more accessible for businesses of all sizes’ we have to say we’re well and truly onboard and look forward to seeing the results this shopping shake-up will bring.
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